Category: English Top Flight Football


Cameroon’s Sebastien Bassong says despite perennial off-the-field issues, the Indomitable Lions hope to perform well, especially with Samuel Eto’o in the mix, at the soccer World Cup that kicks-off next June in Brazil.

The centre-back who captains Norwich in the English Premier League told a British TV network that his national team captain Eto’o, often accused of being divisive, must be part of the World Cup squad and will come good.

“He’s got to go to the World Cup. We will find a way to co-habit. Even if some people don’t like the fact that he is going to be there, we all want the same thing: Cameroon to do well,” Bassong is quoted as saying in excerpts of the TV interview published in The Guardian newspaper.

“Samuel is a huge player for us, a huge character in the country – the most famous person after the president. Our pressure compared to him is nothing. But he’s born to handle that,” the 27-year-old Bassong said.

Bassong partnered Nicolas Nkoulou in central defence for Cameroon at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but has since fallen behind in the pecking order due to a combination of injuries and form issues. With his regular starts and strong displays for Norwich, many observers expect him to return to the Lions’ den to fight for place in the World Cup squad.

That would be another opportunity to team up with his friend and colleague Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Both men played for Tottenham Hotspur (and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon) before the quest for regular football led Bassong to Norwich while Assou-Ekotto is on loan at Queen’s Park Rangers in the English second tier league.

Sebastien Bassong (R) and his pal Benoit Assou-Ekotto (L) while on national team duty with Cameroon

Sebastien Bassong (R) and his pal Benoit Assou-Ekotto (L) while on national team duty with Cameroon

Bassong shares hilarious anecdotes about Assou-Ekotto who is famous for saying publicly that he is playing football because it’s a money-making job.

“For him, it’s a job. I played with Benni at Spurs and in the national team. He used to not even know who we were playing against. Sometimes he would say about opponents or team-mates in the national team when the squad was changing, ‘Bass, who’s that?’, ” Bassong said.

“The best one I remember about Benni was when we were having the team photo at Tottenham and he arrived late….Rafael van der Vaart had just signed and I was next to him. So Benni was shaking hands and when he got to Rafa, he shook his hand, stood still and looked at him. And then he asked me in French: ‘Who’s that?’ I said: ‘It’s Van der Vaart.’

“Benni said: ‘OK, nice to meet you.’ Harry [Redknapp, the Spurs manager] had to explain. He told Rafa: ‘Don’t worry, he doesn’t know who you are, he doesn’t know anything about football, but he’s a great player.'”

Assou-Ekotto’s tells it as he sees it and doesn’t fakes things as is common in football circles which surely explains why the deeply religious Bassong rates him as a friend.

“I believe in God and read the Bible everyday,” Bassong says. “There are some days when your faith goes down a little bit, for whatever reason, but it’s always there. It’s a big part of my life. Football is a different world. The way I see football … there is loads of fake. You’re not living in the real life. For me, the real life will start when I stop playing football.”


Read the full story in The Guardian  here. The excerpts are based on an interview with BT Sport which is the UK’s newest sports TV service, with three channels showing a host of sport, including live top tier action from the Barclays Premier League, with 38 exclusively live matches.

English pundits have been full of praise for Cameroon’s Alex Song for his commanding performance in midfield when Arsenal beat Manchester City 1-0 in a crunch English Premier League duel on Sunday.

Here is what David Pleat, a former Tottenham Hotspur manager, wrote in his column for The Guardian:

“A feature of Arsenal’s improvement has been the combination play of the three midfield men and here Alex Song, the most powerful of midfield bases, led the charge.”

Pleat added:

“When Song drives forward he invariably seeks his side’s goalscorer, Robin van Persie, curving lofted passes into his path. There was a time when he was considered purely a “Makelele type”, sitting in front of his centre-backs, cutting out danger. He began his career at Arsenal as a centre-back, where few staff members considered him first-team material. Arsène Wenger had faith and he is seeing the fruits of his outstanding judgment.”

Pleat concluded that:

“Song, one of the Premier League’s most underrated players, hit all the right notes while his team-mates have proved conclusively to City that money cannot buy you love. There is a feeling about Arsenal that translates into tenacious harmony.”

Victory takes Arsenal to third in the league, two points clear of Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s Tottenham Hotspur. If Arsenal hold on to that spot, they’d automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

However, the contest between the London rivals that feature two of Cameroon’s best acts of the European season (Song and Assou-Ekotto), still has some way to go with six games left.

Read David Pleat’s full match analysis here.

British TV pundits praised Benoit Assou-Ekotto for his consistency at Tottenham Hotspur after the Cameroonian contributed to his club’s  2-0 defeat of Aston Villa on Monday.

Assou-Ekotto (with a new hairdo) didn’t look perturbed by news that the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) had summoned him to appear at a disciplinary hearing this week, for failing to join Cameroon’s national team at a camp in Morocco.

Has he ditched playing for Cameroon since February as a Douala-based TV station, Equinoxe TV, said on Monday? That story seems to be making the rounds in the  media.

But the facts of the story don’t match reality. If Assou-Ekotto ditched the Indomitable Lions since February (!!?), was it his clone that I saw playing at leftback  against Senegal on 26 March 2011?

Assou-Ekotto is second from left among players crouching as Cameroon players pose before playing Senegal in Dakar on 26 March 2011. Or was it his clone?

Who knows? The administrative hassles and unprofessional organisation surrounding the Lions could push the player into early retirement like Lauren Etame did in 2002. But it would seem (for now) that it was  Javier Clemente who sidelined the player for months. Here’s a timeline of events:

1. In February, Javier Clemente (then Cameroon head coach) does not pick Assou-Ekotto for a friendly against Macedonia. After some players fail to turn-up, the Spaniard hastily recalls the leftback. Assou-Ekotto does not respond to the call.

2. In March, Clemente does not select the leftback for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Senegal in Dakar.There is  criticism from the media, the fans, Fecafoot and Ministry of Sports officials. Reports say the coach feels undermined by the player’s refusal to come as a back-up in February. When it appears that Clemente’s preferred leftback Gaetan Bong is injured, the coach is seemingly pressured to recall Assou-Ekotto.

3. The player joins the Lions’ camp in Portugal and eventually plays against Senegal. The media in Senegal describe him as Ca meroon’s man of the match alongside midfielders Landry N’Geumo and Enoh Eyong.

4. In May Assou-Ekotto is picked by the national team trainer for the return-leg game against Senegal but he does not travel to Yaounde. N.B: The player was recovering from an injury sustained days before the game.

5. After the 0-0 draw that basically knocked Cameroon out of the race to qualify for the Africa Cup in 2012, Fecafoot summons Assou-Ekotto to a disciplinary hearing for not appearing for that game. The player does not physically appear for the hearing but reportedly forwards documents explaining he was injured.  The committee issues a warning.  The rule book says injured players must have their injuries confirmed/examined by the national team doctor.

6. In August, ahead of a supposed friendly against Salvador, Clemente does not name Assou-Ekotto in his squad. The match fails to hold, though.

7. In September, Clemente names the squad for the qualifier against Mauritius in Yaounde and a friendly (that did not hold) against Mexico in Paris but Assou-Ekotto is not selected. When pressed on local TV, Francois Omam-Biyick the then deputy head coach says Clemente is still angry about Assou-Ekotto’s failure to appear for the game against Senegal in June. Omam says, the head coach views such behaviour as  indiscipline.

8. In October,  Clemente selects the squad for the final Africa Cup qualifier against the Democratic Republic of Congo and a friendly against Equatorial Guinea but does not pick Assou-Ekotto.

9. With Clemente and his whole backroom staff sacked after the game against Equatorial Guinea, his successor Denis Lavagne names Assou-Ekotto in a team of 28 players for a series of friendlies in North Africa (versus Sudan, Morocco and Algeria).

10. Assou-Ekotto and several other players fail to make it to the camp in Marrakech in early November. The head coach Lavagne says Assou-Ekotto was injured.

“He (Assou-Ekotto) called that he was injured and that’s a shame because it is the third left-back who is injured,” Lavagne told Camfoot.com

Why then is Assou-Ekotto being dragged to the disciplinary council? Did the coach lie to the journalists? Is Assou-Ekotto charged for not showing up to have the team doctor to confirm his injury as Aurelien Chedjou and Nicolas Nkoulou did?

Why have Fecafoot not summoned Somen Tchoyi and Benjamin Moukandjo who were also reportedly injured but did not travel to Marrakesh?

The Lions ready to go again?Cameroon’s head coach Denis Lavagne has named a squad of 28 players for a series of friendly matches slated in November.

The Indomitable Lions will play against Sudan and Morocco in the LG Cup on before flying to Algiers for a friendly with the Desert Foxes of Algeria.

Lavagne has handed a first call up to Spain-based Allan Nyom. The 23-year-old defender was born in France and started his career at AS Nancy before moving to Arles-Avignon. He then moved to Udinese in Italy which  loaned  him to Spanish Primera Liga side Granada FC.

Tunisia based defender Yaya Banana has also been offered a first senior call-up. He was part of the Junior Lions team that reached the U-20 World Cup quarter-finals this year.

The squad released on Thursday includes mainly players based out of Cameroon, except goalkeeper Jean Efala of Fovu Baham. Cameroon’s league is yet to kick-off for a new season.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Georges Mandjeck and Somen Tchoyi who were absent from Javier Clemente’s recent lists, have all been recalled. But there was no place for Sebastien Bassong.

Media reports in Cameroon say Lavagne will hold a news conference in Yaounde on Friday. He’ll use to opportunity to discuss his plans with the team and also explain his team selection.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Guy Roland NDY ASSEMBE, AS Nancy-Lorraine, France
  2. Idriss Carlos KAMENI, RCD Espanyol Barcelonea, Spain
  3. Jean EFALA KOMGUEP, Fovu de Baham, Cameroon
  4. Benoît ANGBWA, FK Anzi Makachkala, Russia
  5. Allan NYOM, Granada FC, Spain
  6. Nicolas NKOULOU, Olympique de Marseille, France
  7. Aurélien CHEDJOU, Lille Olympique SC, France
  8. Georges MANDJECK, Stade Renais, France
  9. Dany NOUKEU, Gaziantesport,Turkey
  10. YAYA BANANA, Espérance de Tunis, Tunisia
  11. Benoît ASSOU-EKOTTO, Tottenham Hotspurs, England
  12. Gaetan BONG, FC Valenciennes, France
  13. Henri BEDIMO, Montpellier, France
  14. Joël MATIP, Schalke 04, Germany
  15. Alexandre SONG, Arsenal, England
  16. Eyong TARKANG ENOH, Ajax Amsterdam, Holland
  17. Landry NGUEMO, FC Girondins de Bordeaux, France
  18. Benjamin MOUKANDJO, AS Nancy-Lorraine, France
  19. Jean II MAKOUN, Olympiakos, Greece
  20. Edgard SALLI, AS Monaco, France
  21. SOMEN à TCHOYI, West Bromwich Albion, England
  22. ANDONGCHO MBUTA, SC Dinamo Bucarest, Rumania
  23. Jacques ZOUA, FC Basel, Switzerland
  24. Samuel ETO’O, FK Anzi Mackachkala,Russia
  25. Vincent ABOUBAKAR, FC Valenciennes, France
  26. Eric Maxim CHOUPO-MOTING,FSV Mainz 05, Germany
  27. Léonard KWEUKE, AS Spartak Prague, Czech Republic
  28. Bienvenue NTSAMA, Fenerbache, Turkey

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Cameroon’s Joel Matip scored on Sunday (21 August) for his club in the German Bundesliga but that hasn’t made headlines in a weekend where the name Cameroon has mainly been associated to Samuel Eto’o’s big money move to Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkal.

Eto’o will certainly keep making the headlines in the coming week, as he finally signs the contract that would see him earn 20 million euros and become the world’s best-paid footballer. But we prefer to focus on the Cameroon internationals who have been in action across Europe.

Eto'o (9), Bedimo (12), Chedjou (14) are mentioned in this week's review

German Bundesliga:

Joel Matip contributed to Shalke 04’s fantastic come-back from two goals down to beat Mainz 4-2 on Sunday. Matip started as one of the two central midfielders in Shalke’s 4-2-3-1 formation. He scored the third goal for Shalke at the 81st minute of play. Cameroon’s head coach Javier Clemente who has consistently refused to select Matip says the youngster is not mobile enough and is more for the future than the present.

Eric Maxim Choupo Moting came on as a second half substitute for Mainz but he was not able to repeat last week’s performance where he scored for his new club. However, Cameroon national team coaches should be happy to see him having regular game time.

Marcel Ndjeng started and played 83 minutes for Augusburg in their 2-0 defeat to Hoffenheim. Ndjeng has not been called up for the Lions since the 1-1 draw with the DRC in October 2010.

France: 

Nicolas Nkoulou played the full 90 minutes at the heart of Olympic Marseille’s defence in their goalless draw with AS St.Etienne. He was calm and assured and made some good long passes to his strike partners.

Henri Bedimo started at leftback for Montpellier when they beat Rennes 4-0 to go top of the French Ligue 1 standings. Georges Mandjeck started in central midfield for Rennes and played the whole game. Mandjeck last featured for the Lions as a second-half substitute against Senegal in Dakar last March.

Moukandjo Bile started his first game for Nancy this weekend after a move from Monaco at the start of the week. Nancy lost 1-2 to Sochaux and Moukandjo was substituted after an hour. He was replaced by another Cameroonian – Alo’o Efoulou who has not been selected for the Lions for about 18 months.

Lille beat Caen 2-1 with Aurelien Chedjou playing at right-back for the French Champions. Chedjou has been playing in central midfield for Cameroon since the World Cup in South Africa but normally plays as a central defender for Lille. For how long would he be deployed at right-back and how would that affect his game?

Landry Nguemo started as the sole holding midfielder in Bordeaux’s diamond formation as they drew 1-1 with Auxerre. Gaetan Bong played at left-back for Valencienne in their 1-2 defeat away to Paris St. Germain.

Switzerland: 

Henri Bienvenue Tsama came on at half-time but could not save his Young Boys Berne side from a 2-0 defeat in the hands of FC Thun. Chris Mbondi, U-20 international, came on as a 49th minute substitute for FC Sion as they beat Lausanne Sport 2-0.

England: 

Somen Tchoyi started again as a second striker for West Bromwich Albion against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday. The Cameroonian worked very hard but his team were beaten 2-1 by their West London hosts. Tchoyi was substituted after 75 minutes.

George Elokobi came on as a very late substitute (90th minute) for Wolverhampton Wanderers as they beat Fulham 2-0.

Aston Villa defeated Blackburn Rovers 3-1 but Cameroon’s Jean Makoun watched from the bench throughout the game. Alex Song started his 3 match ban after stamping on Joey Barton last week and was thus absent from Arsenal’s 0-2 defeat to Liverpool.

This Monday Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong’s Tottenham Hotspur travel to Manchester to face the Premier League Champions. (We’ll update once the game is over).

[An audio review of Cameroonian performances in Europe is available of you click here]

Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the Cameroon international Somen Tchoyi for giving the reigning English Champions a tough test in their 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion (WBA) on Sunday.

“The lad Tchoyi gave us a bit of trouble,” Ferguson said after the match.

The 1.90m Tchoyi, playing as a support striker, worked the United defence for long spells in the game as he tussled with central defenders Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and imposed himself physically.

Somen on the right of this photo warms-up before a Cameroon game

He started the move that led to WBA’s equaliser by overpowering United’s young Brazilian fullback Fabio to recover lost possession at the edge of the Champions’ 18-yard. His strike partner Shane Long then finished the move with a shot that should have been stopped on another day by United’s keeper, David De Gea.

Tchoyi also impressed with his good –short and long range – passing and his willingness to take on defenders using speed and tricky dribbles.

The tactics used by Roy Hodgson, the WBA manager, allowed the Cameroonian to drop into his natural central midfield position and come from deep to occupy the space between the lone striker and the other midfielders in order to dictate play. He was also free to go wide to whip in crosses.

The former Liverpool manager praised both his attackers for putting pressure on United and regretted that they lost the game.

“I thought his (Long’s) performance in general was very good as was Tchoyi’s,” Hodgson said after the game.

It’s unfortunate that most Indomitable Lions managers have hardly thought of playing Tchoyi as an attacking central midfielder or a second striker which are (in my opinion) the positions where he is most effective. He is often used as a winger or wide attacker (in a front three).

Song Stamps Reputation

The former Union Douala player’s performance certainly paints a better picture of Cameroonian footballers than the temperamental display from Alex Song for Arsenal in their goalless draw with Newcastle United on Saturday.

Song played admirably well as a midfield sweeper in-front of Arsenal’s back-four but for some reason decided to stamp on Joey Barton after a challenge. Barton may not be most people’s best friend  (as confirmed by his role in the confrontation that led to Ivory Coast’s Gervinho being sent-off) but there was absolutely no excuse for Song to stamp on the Englishman’s leg.

The defensive midfielder who hasn’t played for Cameroon since the 2010 World Cup may be suspended if the English Football Association decides to use video evidence against him.

Meanwhile, George Elokobi came on as a late substitute for Wolverhampton Wanderers in their 2-1 away win over Blackburn Rovers.

The other Cameroonians operating in the English Premier League were absent on the first day of the new season. Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto could not play because Tottenham’s fixture against Everton was postponed following rioting in London.  Jean Makoun was left on the bench by Aston Villa in the Birmigham club’s goalless draw with Fulham.

Why is it that footballers  born in France , with French nationality and in some cases have even represented France at junior level choose to play for the countries of their fathers and /or mothers?

Whereas the commonly held response to this question is that these players don’t have the quality to be picked for France, Cameroon’s Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto have given an interview to the U.K. Guardian newspaper that could be a pointer to a more disturbing reason (for the French): bad integration of African and Arab communities in the French society.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong in their Cameroon colours

They explain that people from Arab or African communities face serious integration problems in France to the point that they develop strong attachment to their original and/or ancestral roots which may suggest why more and more of these young people switch football nationalities without difficulty.

“…coming from where I did in France, even if you had only one little drop of Moroccan blood, for example, you would represent it to the death. You would be fiercely proud of being African, says Assou-Ekotto who was born in France to a French mother and a Cameroonian father and proudly represents the latter nation.

Assou-Ekotto who grew up in Arras , France and now plays professional football at Tottenham Hotspur in London, says people in England are fiercely proud of being English even when their parents come from elsewhere and the society accepts that, which is a big difference to France.

His Spurs colleague Bassong concurs.

“Most of the players on the French national team come from rough areas and when you live there, your friends all have dual nationalities,” said Bassong , who played for the French U-21s before switching to play for the land of his father and mother.

When he was in the France Under-21 team, he gave an interview in which he admitted “my heart beats for Cameroon.” He did not play for France again, according to the Guardian.

“When you ask them (French players) where they are from, they will say Senegal, Morocco, Algeria…,” he added.

It is to be expected that the French would want to understand why players switch from France to other countries at senior level. At the World Cup,  there were nine players on other sides who had previously played for France, according to the BBC.

Cameroon’s squad at the 2010 World Cup included three players  who at one stage of their careers had represented France: Sebastien Bassong (French U-21), Gaetan Bong (French U-21 until 2010) and Alexandre Song (French U-16 in 2002).

However, the attempt to limit this trend was  poorly tackled by French Football Federation officials (including the France head coach Laurent Blanc) who digressed into near racial undertones during a meeting that was recorded by a member of the Federation, and  was leaked to the press igniting a massive scandal.

The French Federation and Sports ministry officials launched separate  investigations  while  the French National Technical Director, Francois Blanquart, was suspended.

It should be noted here that Blanquart was the coach of the France under 16 team in 2002 that included Alexandre Song and Frank Songo’o who today play for Cameroon as well as Samir Nasri of Arsenal who represents France.

Assou-Ekotto who, [unlike Alex Song (born in Douala) and Frank Songo’o (born in Yaounde)], never adorned a French national team shirt before choosing to play for his African nation, believes the French society has a bigger issue to address.

“France has, at its heart, a problem where it has been unable or unwilling to accommodate the sons and daughters of its former colonies, even though France benefited and enriched itself greatly from the relationship. That’s hard to accept and it’s what sits at the base of what is dysfunctional in France,” the left full-back told the Guardian.

You can read the original story published by the Guardian online here

Cameroon’s Joel Matip will have very few good memories of his first ever UEFA Champions League semi-final. He was part of a Shalke 04 team that lost 0-2  and was turned inside-out by Manchester United on Tuesday.

Matip started well in the centre-back role he was expected to handle in the absence of the injured Benedikt Höwedes. He made a few challenges and powerful blocks that prevented Wayne Rooney, Javier  Henandez (a.k.a Chicharito) and Park Ji Sung from giving United an early breakthrough.

However, Shalke was not compact enough – leaving a lot of space between the lines. Park, Rooney and Ryan Giggs did not hesitate to fill these gaps which often meant that Matip and his centre-defensive partner, Metzelder, were often exposed and faced with 2 v 1 situations.

To make matters worse for Matip, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Jurado who played as the central midfielders meant to protect the centre-backs  (Matip’s usual role)  were tame ,  did not press high-up the pitch to prevent United’s midfielders from passing freely and often failed to track-down the men they were supposed to mark (i.e. Rooney-Giggs/Carrick).

Jurado failed to pick-up Ryan Giggs’ run between the lines leaving the 37- year-old Welshman alone to slot the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for the curtain-raiser.

Two minutes later, Papadopoulos forgot to track Rooney who combined beautifully with Hernandez and slid into the space between Shalke’s defence and attack. Matip found himself having to decide whether to close-down Rooney or Hernandez (2 v 1) and ended-up in-between; allowing the Englishman to beat the goalkeeper for the second goal.

Matip, who is Cameroon’s lone representative at this level of the tournament, is still 19-years-old and has time on his side to reach greater heights. He is intelligent and has good positional awareness  when he plays in midfield but he must work on his pace, especially when he is fielded in the centre of defence.

Shalke  need to beat Manchester United with three clear goals in the second-leg to hope for a place in the final at Wembley at the end of May. That would be hard to achieve, if one has to go by the ease with which United played in Germany.

The English premier league leaders’ passing was sublime, Michael Carrick completely bossed the midfield, while Rooney displayed variety – dropping deep to support the midfield and darting forward to act as second striker. Were it not for Neuer’s great goalkeeping, United would have won by not less than 6-0.

Joel Matip is the only Cameroon international who came out smiling after Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League quarter-finals as his German Bundesliga team thrashed reigning European Champions, Inter Milan, 5-2, with the teenager scoring.

Matip played in central defence for Shalke 04 (as Gef’s Football Club had said) and not only contributed to prevent Samuel Eto’o from scoring, but also pushed up front to score an equaliser from a corner-kick in the 17th minute of play. Inter Milan had snatched the curtain-raiser through a Dejan Stankovic master-stroke barely 30 seconds into play.

Diego Milito took the Italian and European Champions ahead (2-1) but Matip and Shalke 04 did not give up. They equalised and managed to score three more goals.

Eto’o and his Inter Milan team-mates would have to score 4 goals without conceding any in Germany in a fortnight to bar Shalke from reaching the semi-final. The Cameroon captain who shot blanks in this encounter would have to produce the magic he displayed in Munich last month against Bayern to dig his club out of this one.

In the meantime, it is still bewildering that Cameroon’s Spanish-born coach thinks Matip is not worth a call-up given the boy’s versatility and competitiveness. Nurtured as a central midfielder, Matip has played this season as a centre-back (that was the case on Tuesday), right-back and even right-winger. He may not be full of muscle but he is calm, clean, good with the ball and effective.

In the other first-leg quarter final game, Benoît Assou-Ekotto, another player who seemed to be overlooked by the Cameroon manager until authorities intervened, was also defending his club colours on Tuesday. Sadly his team, Tottenham  Hotspur, were handed a soand whipping in Spain where they lost 4-0 to Real Madrid.

Real Madrid were better in most of the sectors and though Assou-Ekotto showed few moments of brilliance, the overall Spurs display was dismal and they deserved to lose. They need to beat Real by a five goal margin on the return-leg  to go through.

Sebastien Bassong, the other Cameroon international who plays for the north London team, came in at the 80th minute of play. The manager had preferred Frenchman Gallas in the centre of defence from the start. He may be regretting that decision after watching Real’s Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor out-jump Gallas to score his brace.

Not a night of greatness for Cameroon’s representatives in the UEFA Champions league then – except for Joel Matip, of course.